Car emblems have existed almost from the inception of automobiles. Early cars had radiator caps that rested on top of the hood. At least one automaker got the idea of turning the cap into a hood ornament. Soon every automaker had an emblem or mascot adorning the hood of their car. In addition to giving the vehicle a decorative flourish, the emblem served as a brand identifier. Early carmakers based their designs on everything from national flags, family crests, coat of arms, constellation of stars, and animals that embodied the traits they admired. Today with the profile of cars looking so much alike, the emblem is often the only way we can identify the maker. See if you can recognize these. (Answers on the next page.)
Extending a brand into global markets isn’t a straightforward process. Product makers have to consider all kinds of cultural and language barriers. Can the letterforms be read? Can the name be pronounced? Does it have a pleasing or harsh sound when spoken? Does the name mean something else in another language? (An example is the famous case of the Chevy Nova, which in Mexico translates to “doesn’t go.”) Then there is the challenge of trying to maintain some graphic consistency so the brand is truly global and not the same product that looks different in every regional market.
Consider how Carlsberg Beer and Coca-Cola graphically translated their logotypes into multiple languages, for example. LogoDesignLove brought the Carlsberg comparisons to our attention. With Carlsberg, note the way that the designers tried to carry over the signature style of the brand — the flat-top squared-off “C,” tri-leaf accent pattern, the swash decorative flourish under the type, the brushstroke-like serif on the last “r.” Although the letterforms differ dramatically from language to language, the various logotypes have a family look that suggests their roots stem from the original Danish Carlsberg logo.